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Hal Leonard


His "peoples songs" form lasting part of American culture


Woodrow Wilson Guthrie was born on July 14, 1912, in Okemah, Oklahoma, the second-born son to Charles and Nora Guthrie. Woody was both a precocious and unconventional boy from the start. A keen observer of the world around him, during his early years in Oklahoma, Woody experienced the first in a series of tragic personal losses which would haunt him throughout his life. The death of his older sister Clara, his father's financial and physical ruin, and the institutionalization of his mother, devastated Woody's family and home, forming a uniquely wry and rambling outlook on life.

In 1931, when Okemah's boomtown period went bust, Guthrie left for the panhandle town of Pampa, Texas, where in 1933 he fell in love and married Mary Jennings, the younger sister of a friend and musician named Matt Jennings. Together, Woody and Mary had three children, Gwen, Sue, and Bill. It was with Matt Jennings and Cluster Baker that Woody made his first attempt at a music "career," forming The Corn Cob Trio. However, if the Great Depression made it hard to support his family, the Great Dust Storm which hit the Great Plains in 1935, made it impossible. Due to lack of work, and driven by a search for a better life, Woody headed west along with the mass migration of "dust bowl refugees" known as "Okies." These farmers and unemployed workers from Oklahoma, Kansas, Tennessee, and Georgia had also lost their homes and land, and so set out with their families in search of opportunities elsewhere. Moneyless and hungry, Woody hitchhiked, rode freight trains, and even walked to California, developing a love for traveling…

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Discography Highlights

Ludlow Music, Inc.

Ludlow Music, Inc.

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